The 437th film I have seen in theaters…
A remarkably relevant film, showcasing some amazing talent as it gives us a powerful new piece of Space Race history. An Oscar contender for sure.
1961 NASA is operating in segregated Langley Virginia. A team of black “computers”, literally women who compute numbers, are enlisted to work on the Mercury space program. Overcoming the racist, and sexist, obstacles of the era, these women play an important role in the success of the American space program.
Taraji P. Henson turns in an Oscar caliber performance as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician brought up to be a “computer” for the NASA rocket trajectory team. Little did they know that she was a genius. A powerful role, this should earn her an Oscar nomination, Easily.
Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan, a Mathematician who led the West Area Computers team, and eventually was instrumental in the operations of super-computers at NASA, becoming a leader in computer programming. Her interactions with Kirsten Dunst, the racist supervisor, are some of the best in the film. Great work.
Janelle Monae is Mary Jackson, a member of the West Area team that wants to get additional schooling and become an engineer. While the whole film is ultimately an uplifting tale, this one strikes a chord with me as she takes her case for education to court. Another stellar performance.
We depart from history as the following cast members are not strictly historical, but are amagalmations of real people. Kevin Costner is Al Williamson, director of the space task group at NASA, who sticks up for Katherine Johnson. Costner is always dependable for a good performance.
Jim Parsons is Paul Stafford, a lead mathematician on the space task force and foil to Johnson. It was good to see him play against type as a moderately racist character.
Kirsten Dunst is in full bitch mode as the incredibly intolerant Vivian Mitchell, supervisor of the human computer teams. While a minor role, and a nasty one at that, this was an important one. She displayed the institutional racism which is incredibly demoralizing to the black community. Another good performance.
I saved Mahershala Ali for last. This guy is going to be a movie star. An honest to god movie star. He was dazzling on House of Cards. He was my favorite character in Luke Cage. He’s been in Hunger Games and is getting a lot of attention for his role in Moonlight- one I hope to catch very soon. He plays the love interest for Henson here. Watch this guy. He is the real deal.
One of the best films I’ve seen in a while. Quite refreshing after 2016. I am a lover of history, and have always been interested in the 1960’s, and NASA. This film opened me to a story I did not know. An important story which I hope will inspire many young people, especially women, to pursue a Science education. Well written, powerfully cast, with a pitch perfect soundtrack (Thank you Pharrell and Hans Zimmer). This is why I love movies. This is a true Oscar contender.